Maybe this one should have been called “Big Bike Friendly Repair Crew… Ride.” 😉
Beginning at our regular South West Vancouver Island location, I was a little disappointed to see such a poor ADV bike turn out to the big bike friendly ride… Maybe their on to something? Maybe I’m a slow learner. Don’t care, can’t stop, just love kickin’ it with the dual sport gang.
About 8 degrees and partially cloudy, sweating with only a long sleeve shirt and a riding jacket. Are we sure this was December 8th… and not April 8th? This was a perfect day for riding. The group of bikes and riders all prepared and ready for the anticipated day in the mountains. A good cup of coffee and a riders meeting and we were off. Lead by Mr. Chong again, history shows we were sure to be in for an interesting days ride.
Making our way up towards Jordan River we grouped up at the the FSR entrance to towards the Dam. With no gates and no bypass routes this was a nice leisurely start, very fitting for the larger ADV bikes that did come. A beautie of a bike, the Ducati Desert Sled braved the days adventure, a very familiar 1000cc Varadero and it’s very capable predecessor the African Twin. Myself on the 800 Tiger again and I’m not going to even include the big KTM since everybody that rides those things makes it look like they’re throwing around a 125, so it doesn’t count. 😉 The rest of the boys on their regular dual sport varieties, they were ready for what ever the trail would throw at them, but was the Tiger… turns out, not today.
No one to slow you down or at least they were kind enough to take the shoulder for a safe pass, everybody seemed to be having a good time taking the route to the Dam.
All the breaks filled with moments to chat or play around on the hills of the Dam. It was obvious I wasn’t the only one happy to have a dual purpose bike on a day like today. Like dogs at the local park with the leashes released, the animals ran with their new freedom, tearing off in all directions.
Our journey to find the sought after Secret Lake came with many puddles, interesting trails, low creak crossings and our first casualty.
Manufactured in Spain, the Honda Varadero was the heavyweight in the pack with aluminum rims. Squaring off to a bull of a boulder it lost the fight, wounding the brave champion. The rescue crew riding behind assisted our friend, and solved the taco’ed rim with a donated tube to hold the air in what was once a tubeless rim. Lost a few of the pack venturing on to these rougher trails, there were many ways out of the mountains and several made a wise decision of a more relaxed route.
Continuing up the rocky route to the lake this location is clearly only a secret to the most capable of off road vehicles with several of the sections testing the skills of many. Worth the trek, it was a unique location to hang for lunch.
Back down the rocky route and into a couple more splash zones the group ventured back on to the FSR’s for some quicker riding in perfect weather conditions. Cool but not too cold. Bright, but with out the glaring sun, with damp but not soak’n roads. Big bikes are happiest on roads like these. However… anything can happen…
Exploring up unknown routes the riding is quick, and the blast rocks can become the road and get large at times. Regularly hearing the “twang” of small boulders bouncing off the stock Triumph skid plate I was pretty aware the evening was going to be filled with repairing and banging out the dents…again, but didn’t figure I’d be using so much degreaser.
With the oil filter somewhat exposed a sharp rock bounced up piercing the thin skin. Looking like a badly running two stroke I began to trail a smoke screen and heard a frantic “honking” from behind. Catching a view of the cloudy mass in the mirror, I quickly shut of the motor and coasted to a stop, initially fearing something horribly catastrophic. In a glance I saw the hole and was actually relieved. With a gaping wound draining the precious fluids we threw it on its side and prepared it for surgery. With the use of an aluminum tire repair buffer and some JB Weld, our English mechanic Mr. Bains sealed the puncture with crafty trail side skills. Problem solved, except one thing… oil.
Losing a couple litres, the bike wasn’t making it off the mountain with out some oil. I’m a lucky SOB. In the right place at the right time as if it was some sort orchestrated story plot allowing for some drama without murdering the day, we spotted a couple hunters with trucks. Running down the hill a short distance and explaining our situation one of the guys pulls out a 5 litre jug of fresh oil capable of solving our shortage, and a funnel. The size of the grin on my face was ridiculous.
Repairs holding, but not testing fate I chose to take the short route back to the paved roads. Keeping rev’s and oil pressure low I could still fly along in sixth gear still massively enjoying the trek off the mountains. With the rest of the crew venturing further into the hills I parted ways with a few other riders ready to head out, or willing to ensure I safely make it out of the woods. With the gate miraculously open for a change a simple exit from the trails was welcome site. With an oily rag tied to the gate the message was left to the other crew that we made it out and weren’t trapped with a dry bike and another puddle of oil. Later hearing a great ride continued before they made it out as well.
Thanks to everybody who helps out on these rides. The tail rider ensuring everyones makes it through, the mechanics solving problems and everyone else always looking out for each other, and picking up bikes. Also thanks to Chris for initiating another memorable ride out. So… whens the next one… it’s only December. 😉